A passion for mentoring underrepresented minority students
As a young, African American woman pursuing her education at a predominantly white institution, Dr. Rhonda Fowler did not see many people that looked like her. She credits her several mentors with pushing and encouraging her to succeed in this environment.
“As I have told my mentors on several occasions, I owe part of my success to them and one way that I can pay them back is by paying it forward to my students,” Fowler said.
Fowler is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development. Her passion and research focus is mentoring underrepresented minority students. She currently mentors students individually, but plans to take it to a larger scale.
“I firmly believe that students who have good mentors have a greater chance of being successful in their career; which is why I believe that creating formal mentoring programs are important,” Fowler said.
She said mentoring programs can provide a support system and a sense of belonging for students in higher education, and even for faculty and staff.
Fowler is currently working on a research project that examines the mentoring experiences of staff in the college. She held a workshop on mentoring and helped staff find mentors and mentees that would help them meet their career goals. From this, she will create a formal mentoring program.
Her next project will center on mentoring for first-generation students at PWIs and mentoring experiences for her undergraduate students while they complete required internships.
“Mentoring is important to any organization, but it is extremely important for our students,” Fowler said.
One of her student mentees shared with her that she was not only their mentor, but their confidant, counselor, cheerleader and the person who provided important constructive feedback.
“I want all of my students to be successful and complete their academic journey, but I do believe in order for them to accomplish this goal it will take everyone — departments, colleges and the university — working collaboratively to create mentoring programs that are structured towards the success of our students,” Fowler said.
About the Writer
Heather is responsible for news coverage in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, as well as the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development.Articles by Heather
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